THROUGH THE LOCK by Carol Otis Hurst


Age Range: 10 - 12
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A runaway orphan’s search for a settled home ends along the banks of a newly-constructed Connecticut canal in this early-19th-century adventure, loosely based on Hurst’s own family history. Eager to find a place where she can be reunited with her separated brother and sister, Etta stumbles upon a seemingly abandoned canal foreman’s shack. The cabin’s not empty, however; Walter, a taciturn agemate hiding out from his abusive, alcoholic father has claimed it already, and isn’t exactly welcoming. Etta’s not one to beat a quiet retreat, though. Soon the two are working together, surreptitiously hauling in supplies and trying to dispose of the corpse of Walter’s father, who puts in a sudden appearance before proceeding to drink himself to death. Etta and Walter make an engaging pair, and their efforts to give Walter’s father a proper burial turn into a comedy of errors thanks to a too-helpful younger friend. In the end, coming to accept that her sibs are happy enough where they’ve ended up, Etta finds a place of her own, and a paying job too, helping to protect that stretch of the canal from threatened local farmers. It’s a satisfying outcome for a quick-paced tale that will please Paulsen and Kathleen Karr fans. (Fiction 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-618-03036-0
Page count: 172pp
Publisher: Walter Lorraine/Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2001


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